The BOOK of All Books
David W. Allan
What book has impacted the world for good more than any other, produced the most profound music (Handel's Messiah, for example), given us the greatest literature (Shakespeare’s plays and Milton’s Paradise Lost as examples), changed more people’s hearts toward God, and recently, because of the inspiration in its translation, has been tied back to the language of Adam (see
Yes, you guessed it, the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Interestingly, no other modern translation of the Bible in English, has that level of inspiration and literary power. How did it come about?
William Tyndale (1494-1536) was burned at the stake for his efforts to bring the Bible into English. He taught himself Hebrew, and was fluent in seven languages. Ninety percent of the New Testament is Tyndale’s translation, as well as much of the Old Testament, which he also would have finished had he not been burned at the stake. His biography testifies how close he was to the Spirit and his totally focused dedication to bringing a good translation into English (read Fire in the Bones by S. Michael Wilcox).
Just before being burned, Tyndale’s last words -- with fervent zeal and a loud voice he cried, “Lord! Open the king of England’s eyes.” Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, loved Tyndale’s translation, and convinced Henry of its worth. Three years after Tyndale’s martyrdom, the king had “The Great Bible,” chained to every pulpit in England – a good portion of which was Tyndale’s translation.
Mary, Henry VIII’s only child from his first wife, became queen in 1553 – taking England back to Catholicism – she caused 284+ Protestants to be martyred during her five year reign; hence the name, Bloody Mary. England was fiercely divided over religion. Beloved Queen Elizabeth’s reign (1558-1603) brought a large measure of peace to this troubled and religiously divided empire. Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, never married in contrast to her father, who had six wives. She was totally opposite to her father in disposition as well – taking after her mother. On her death bed, she designated her cousin, James VI of Scotland, who became James I, King of England.
James was extremely well tutored, knew his scriptures and the flaws in Bible translations. He hated the Geneva Bible – the Bible of the puritans with all its heretical margin notes. He knew the Bishop’s Bible used by the Church of England was a poor translation. He was determined to bring unity to this religiously divided kingdom.
He was a fierce debater, and when the scholarly bishops approached him to put down the Puritans, he verbally ripped them apart. When the Puritan scholars came to him to deal with the mistranslations and misinterpretations that existed in the Church of England, he also verbally ripped them apart. But as a parting request they suggested the need for a new translation of the Bible that would unite the country. That request touched his soul, and thus he launched the massive, seven-year effort to bring forth the King James Version (KJV).
He appointed over fifty of the best scholars drawing from both camps – making them work together; 47 completed the task. The two groups, of course, did not trust each other, and set up severe checks on all translations to assure accuracy. By the end, the two factions got along remarkably well and had developed high regard for each other’s scholarship and contributions.
Two major benefits came out of this massive work and direction. It not only helped unify Scotland and England; they loved their new king. Also, socially, religious tolerance improved dramatically. However, at the time, no one knew the degree to which this inspired-English translation would change the world for good way beyond anyone’s expectations at the time.
James never saw the success of his book, and after it was published in 1611, his reign as king went into decline. It took many decades for the world to realize what a great golden nugget they had in this the best English translation of the Bible. In reviewing the history of it all, one sees the Lord raising up this man with this as his main mission in life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses the KJV as their official Bible, and they have obtained special copyright release privileges for their printed versions, which are significantly footnoted. It is interesting that as the Lord gave Joseph Smith the inspired translation of the Book of Mormon, the King James language was the Lord’s choice to give it the maximum impact for good, as biblical passages were pulled into context as part of the translation process, and in providing the world a Second Witness for Jesus the Christ.
Probably not another book has had more impact for good on the world than the KJV of the Bible.
(Watch the Netflix DVD: KJB: The Book That Changed the
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December 4, 2015
Last updated: December 04, 2015